"Ponselle was a true vocal phenomenon… She sang with a perfect voice, with faultless musicality…
What Caruso represented in the world of tenors, Ponselle was to the world of sopranos."
- Wilfrid Pelletier
With a legendary voice and powerful stage presence, Rosa Ponselle became one of the world’s leading sopranos of the 1920s and 1930s and the first American opera star. After capturing the attention of Enrico Caruso, who then performed beside her in her Metropolitan Opera debut in La Forza del Destino, Ponselle went from the vaudeville stage to operatic stardom. She would go on to sing the lead roles in Norma, La Traviata, and 20 other operas.
Following her career on stage, Ponselle moved to Baltimore with her husband, Carle A. Jackson, son of Baltimore’s mayor, where she created an Italianate estate that she lovingly named Villa Pace in homage to her operatic debut. There she became artistic director of the Baltimore Opera Company and mentored young stars such as James Morris, Beverly Sills, Eileen Farrell, Placido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, and many others.
The Arthur Friedheim Library at the Peabody Conservatory is proud to present artifacts from Ponselle’s remarkable career and opulent estate. This web exhibit features items from the Rosa Ponselle Collection to tell the story of Ponselle's life and influence. Click on the thumbnail photos throughout the exhibit for a closer look.
Some physical items from the Ponselle collection are already on display inside the Arthur Friedheim Library, and an exhibit featuring items from Villa Pace will be open to the public in January 2018. To learn more about the collection and to contact the archives, visit our About the Collection page.